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TUSIAD High Advisory Council Meeting Held Online

The President of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Simone Kaslowski delivered opening remarks at the High Advisory Council meeting, which convened online on December 3rd. The High Advisory Council is a biannual deliberative conference where the business world takes stock of domestic and global political and economic developments and offers suggestions to policy makers from a business perspective.

In his remarks, President Kaslowski reiterated the Turkish business world’s calls for reforms, strengthening of democratic standards and the rule of law, and reinvigorating the EU accession process. Below are excerpts of his remarks:

On vaccine development…

“Towards the end of the year, we received hopeful news from vaccine developers that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Science has demonstrated its contribution to humanity once again. We hope and expect that the vaccines will be accessible to all people throughout the world, simultaneously and in solidarity. Achieving this progress in such a short time was possible through the ethics of cooperation, mutual trust, and knowledge sharing in the scientific community.”

On the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic…

“As you all know, almost all the world’s economies were unprepared for the dramatic changes and shocks of the pandemic. The policies that deviated from economic fundamentals in our country, as throughout the world, led to deepening problems. To some extent, prioritizing growth is necessary, however, not responding appropriately to problems that arise from this policy has created difficulty. The failure to correct course at the right time created imbalances in markets and the depletion of foreign exchange reserves.”

On the Turkish economy…

“[We have] an opportunity to reset with new economic management. The first measures taken resulted in immediate market relief. Through our experience, we know with absolute certainty what is needed in economic management: Simplicity, transparency, predictability, institutionalism, accountability, and continuous dialogue between decision makers and economic actors.”

“There is another lesson we have learned from experience: Economic policies, the functioning of markets, and the direction of capital flows rely on good governance and competent bureaucracy. However, in order to foster permanent and sustainable growth and to attract investment into our country, it is also necessary to have rule of law, and an efficient, fair, and dependable judicial system.”

On judicial reforms…

“We were pleased when the reform targets that were recently announced included legal and judicial reforms. These reforms should be designed within a framework of a general philosophy of law and judicial understanding that affects the society in every aspect. The reforms should be formulated by seeking input from the society.”

“Our econometric work show the three most important factors in the development of a country are rule of law, human capital, and technology. The most critical element is rule of law.”

On the European Union…

“Everyone is aware that our relations with the European Union are in crisis. We think that both sides must understand that no common ground will be achieved by exchanging accusations. The lack of trust between the two parties prevents a dialogue driven by mutual interests… Going forward, our relations should be set on a different track. Above all, establishing trust between the parties is the best way to get on a path that serves all our interests. We believe that concrete steps through confidence-building measures and positive discourse are necessary.”

On the direction of foreign policy…

“The goal of foreign policy should be to increase welfare while providing security. Along these lines, a foreign policy that relies on diplomacy and diplomatic language would create an atmosphere of mutual trust that would benefit Turkey greatly. We believe that such an approach will facilitate greater understanding of our rightful concerns in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The President of the High Advisory Council Tuncay Özilhan echoed these remarks:

On achieving economic solutions…

“…We have undergone a period in which economic problems have been compounding for quite some time. Rather than postponing them, we need to solve these problems by building confidence in institutions. Our expectation is that all economic institutions fulfill their roles, independently, as stipulated by law. The most important elements to rebuild confidence are transparency and accountability. In order for economic actors to produce sound analysis and forecasting, accurate information must be shared transparently. Without good information, good decisions cannot be made.”

“An environment which promotes freedom of thought, where ideas and criticism are expressed freely, where there is a free and diverse media, a society of people who listen to one another, and a competent solution-driven bureaucracy, reduces the possibility of policy mistakes.”

“If future uncertainty decreases, inflation expectations decline, and political and economic risks are alleviated, interest rates tend to fall. If we want to lower interest rates permanently, we need to lower inflation, implement economic reforms, mitigate political and geopolitical risks, and apply judicial reforms to ensure predictability.”

On foreign policy…

“Strengthening of the rules-based international order will have a positive effect on our country. In fact, this will also reflect positively on our region. The return to the Iran nuclear deal and the promotion of security and stability in Syria will better allow Turkey to achieve its regional potential. In speeches I made last year, I emphasized that our foreign relations should not be transactional in nature. I view Turkey’s EU membership process as extremely important in this regard. Today, as in the past, Turkey’s EU accession bid is an important parameter of Turkey’s place in the international system. Our relationship with Europe, economically, technologically, and in foreign policy, has always been vital; we have influenced Europe, as Europe has influenced us.”

On democracy…

“Since the foundation of the Republic, we have based our conception of the state on national sovereignty and democracy as in Western Europe, not on the power of a political party or an individual as it is elsewhere. We have demonstrated our desire to belong to a bloc defined by liberal democracy, not to one defined by state capitalism and authoritarianism. As in the past, Turkey’s EU membership perspective is a reference and anchor for Turkey’s democratic and economic reforms.”

On EU accession…

“Progress in EU – Turkey relations at an institutional level is in the interest of both Turkey and the EU. In this sense, a new dynamic can be created by taking action in certain areas such as updating the Customs Union to include the European Green Deal, Digital Europe, agriculture, public procurement, and visa liberalization.”

On foreign investment…

“Regarding foreign capital investments, it is an absolute necessity to promote the rule of law in the business and investment environment. Otherwise, no foreigner would choose to make productive, long-term investments in the country.” 

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